Ok, so you can probably guess from my title where I stand as far as Daniel Myrick’s The Blair Witch Project is concerned, and my guess is most of you are already deciding that you don’t agree with me. I don’t blame you at this point! The Blair Witch Project received 6.4 stars on IMDB and 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Trust me, in the world of horror, us “anti-blair-witchers” are aware we are in the minority, so let me begin by telling you what I’m not going to do: I’m not going to make you waste 10 minutes of your time reading a review that goes on and on about all the many problems in this movie and why you should hate it..blah blah blah. Nobody likes a whiner. Rather, I’m going to give you some practical advice on how to better choose horror movies in the future by looking at The Blair Witch and what it’s lacking. It's like when you are sitting there eating a perfectly great vanilla milkshake, then your friend shows up with a milkshake filled with oreos and whipped cream. Now who’s still enjoying their milkshake? Yes, it hurts for a moment to realize that your milkshake could have been better the whole time, but at least now you know what to order next time!
So that we are all on the same page, let's begin with just a short summary of this film: The Blair Witch Project follows three teens (Heather, Mike, and Josh) as they trek out into the woods to do research behind the legend of the Blair Witch. They begin by interviewing several of the folks that live in the town near the woods, and almost everybody knows something about this witch. With the creepy tales of the witch swimming in their minds, they venture into the woods for what is meant to be just a three day campout to shoot some scenes in the home of the “fictional” witch. Once they enter the woods things start declining from there. The first problem is that the circle-walking begins. Classic in any “woodsy” horror film. Because of the bewitchment of the woods, Heather, Mike, and Josh become hopelessly lost wandering in circles. While things definitely do get worse for them, the circle wandering is a very large chunk of the film. After they become lost in the woods, the film really has only 2 elements to it: wandering in hopeless circles in the woods, and listening to sticks crack at night. Are both of those things scary? Yes of course! Scary for an audience to watch for an hour and forty-five minutes? You can answer that for yourself.
After they become lost in the woods, they begin to hear many strange noises and find mysterious, unexplainable symbols placed all around them. Slowly the characters are forced to come to the realization that they aren’t just lost. They are hunted. Josh is the first of them to disappear, then suddenly Heather and Mike are left alone to walk in circles and listen to sticks crack. Oh no! The film comes to what could be called a climax in the last five minutes when Heather and Mike venture out to find Josh, for the third time, and they are lead to an old abandoned house. Once inside, they follow his screams, and wind up in a basement where the film ends as you see Mike standing in the corner of the room. The camera goes black. After at least fifteen minutes of pure running, screaming and chasing, that is the end it comes to. Everyone dies. But are we really surprised?
Even for those huge Blair Witch fans, there is no denying that the plotline in this film is no Inception, in other words, it didn’t take a genius to writes this screenplay. Without a good plot, what’s the big deal? One reason why this film was so widely appraised was because of the unique “found footage” aspect in which the film was shot. Many people actually gave credit to the Blair Witch for being the first of these “found footage” films ever. If you were one of these people, I really hate to pop that bubble, but the first ever found footage film was called The Mcpherson Tape and it was released in 1989.
There were actually several others released after that such as Cannibal Holocaust and Mansion Family Movie that preceded The Blair Witch in that specific genre. People latched on to these type of films because, well, some people legitimately thought that they were real!
This is one reason why The Blair Witch Project blew minds is because there were some people out there that fell into the trap and thought that three kids had actually been killed by a demonic witch in the woods and then Artisan Pictures was actually messed up enough to put that film in front of an audience and ask for people's money in order to see it. How messed up would that be? Not to mention the legal issues that could cause! When actually thought about, it is very clear that The Blair Witch Project is just an average scary movie with a below average plotline.
This is where I begin to give you some advice on how to better choose your movies in the future. In films, there are three elements that separate the good films from the great. The first we have already talked about, and that is the plotline, A movie without a good storyline is just a bad movie. We now watch movies today for a number of reasons: entertainment, education, history, business, etc. but still the main reason why we watch them is to tell us a story. The movies we love and cherish are those that can take us out of this reality and into another for moment. Horror films are no different. Yes, you are opting to enter a bit of a different reality than if you were to watch a movie like Frozen, but it’s still the same concept. The fact of the matter is, the plotline of The Blair Witch Project lacked depth. One can only watch the same scene play out so many times before you just get bored. Walking in the woods, upset, scared and screaming profanity. I just summed up at least 70% of this film.
The second thing that makes us love our films is the characters. We need to get to know them. Some shows we love so much because we literally feel like the characters are our friends. I’m not afraid to admit that this is definitely the reason why I watch “New Girl.” In order for us to get to know the characters, we need to be able to grow with them. Who didn’t love watching Luke Skywalker transform from a whiny teenager into a Jedi master? This still applies to the horror genre as well. In The Ring, we go with Rachel as she goes from a typical skeptic to a brave detective. In the Blair Witch Project, Heather, Mike and Josh, go from scared, to angry, back to scared, then dead. We never truly get to know anything about them, let alone grow with them.
Lastly, the mark of a truly good film, is that it will leave you thinking. It will end on the screen, but for the rest of the day you will keep playing it in your mind and thinking about all of your favorite parts. Horror movies especially tend to have this effect. The parts that play over in your head definitely aren’t warm and fuzzy, but that’s what you knew you were signing up for. After watching The Ring I could not shake the famous image of Samara crawling out of the T.V. I even just got the shivers while typing this! The Blair Witch on the other hand has really nothing to offer in that aspect. The only things left in my head afterwards were a few very profane words.
Next time you sit down to watch a horror film, or any movie for that matter, I hope you now have a few more things to take into consideration. “ A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings.” This quotes by Stanley Kubrick sums it up. This is how your movie watching experience should be. Don’t waste time on movies that cheat you. It’s as simple as that. The Blair Witch Project with it’s mundane plotline, weak characters and lack of depth is not going to give you the movie watching experience you know you deserve. In short: Always order the oreo milkshake.